Amarinder Singh: Need a national policy to tackle drug menace
Participating at the HT Leadership Summit, the Punjab chief minister alleged that drugs were being sent to Amritsar from Gujarat, even though they could fetch better prices in Delhi and Mumbai
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday alleged that Pakistan was "pushing" drugs through Indian borders to destroy the youth in the northern states as he called for a national policy to tackle the menace. He also expressed concern over the erosion of the states powers, leading to a weakening of the Centre-state relations in the federal structure. Participating at the HT Leadership Summit, the Punjab chief minister alleged that drugs were being sent to Amritsar from Gujarat, even though they could fetch better prices in Delhi and Mumbai.
The motive was to destroy the youth and starve the Indian Army of manpower in the long run, he said, pointing out that two-thirds of the Army's recruits were from the northern belt. If you don't have healthy youth, where will you get jawans from,¿ he said, adding that his government was going all out to solve the drug problem, which was at a critical point.
Making it clear that he had no problems in working with the Centre, from whom it had been receiving full cooperation, Singh said his state was facing some issues, particularly in matters of finance and key appointments. He said control had been taken away from the state and he did not even have the power to appoint his own Director General of Police (DGP) and had to send a list of names to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). ¿Do they know better than us, he asked, adding that his government was challenging the issue of DGP appointment in the Supreme Court.
Singh's demand that states should have the freedom to appoint their own DGPs was backed by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy who joined him at the summit. Kumaraswamy also felt there were certain issues on which the states were not getting support from the Centre, such as the disputes of water sharing and the Goods and Services Tax.
The Punjab and Karnataka chief ministers opined that fuel should be kept out of GST but Fadnavis felt otherwise. However, the Maharashtra chief minister agreed with Singh that states had less liberty now in matters of finance. Refuting allegations that his government had gone soft on Badals in the sacrilege cases and the subsequent police firing that left two people dead, the chief minister said one could not just put anyone behind the bars.
The Justice (Retd) Ranjit Singh Inquiry Commission had given its report and a SIT had been formed to get to the bottom of the sacrilege cases, he said, according to a state government release. To another question, he said his government did not want to control the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) but wanted the Badals out of it as they had made the religious body their fiefdom.
The ruling Congress in Punjab would support anyone who could throw the Badals out of SGPC, he said, adding that the Akali leaders were not working for the Sikh community. Singh further rued that Punjab was facing financial troubles with no industry and a hostile neighbour. ¿Punjab is feeding the country but the country is not feeding us.
We have no industry, Singh lamented, adding that the state was facing financial issues, with no money and no industry to strengthen its economy. The state, which had a hostile neighbor, was growing at 5.1 per cent as against the national growth rate of 7.2 per cent, he pointed out, expressing concern over the situation. On the issue of stubble burning, the Punjab chief minister said that his government was imposing fines on farmers found indulging in the same.
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